ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
ANTONIN DVORAK - Symphony No. 8


ANTONIN DVORAK - Symphony No. 8 - Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Manfred Honeck (Conductor) - Hybrid SACD - 030911271022 - Released: July 2014 - Reference FR-710SACD

This may sound like a strange thing to say, but it's rather unfortunate that Antonin Dvorák's Ninth Symphony 'From the New World' is so good, and has become so popular, because it has completely overshadowed his preceding symphonies, including the Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88 found on this recording. But despite the fact that it may not have as many "stick in your head" melodies as the 9th, in my opinion it's just as strong a symphonic work as it's younger brother.

This time around conductor Manfred Honeck does not steer far from the norm as far as interpretation of this work is concerned, but the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra members make up for that by clearly projecting their enjoyment of the music through their individual instruments and in doing so, generate impressive sonics. And once again, the recording engineers at Reference Recordings have captured these sonics as naturally as possible. From the sweetness of the solo flute ushering in the symphony's main idea at the 45 second mark of the opening movement, to the weight of the big double basses playing that series of descending scales at the apex of the slow movement, everything sounds as if you are sitting in the hall's sweet spot. Audiophiles take note!

Jean-Yves Duperron - August 2014